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Computer Games That Score

We call it the CBS Toy Test but there's a lot more to it than toys. If you have a home computer, chances are there are some computer games on your holiday shopping list. But with all the new games coming on the market, how do you know which are the best?

Just ask CBS Consumer Correspondent Herb Weisbaum. He knows because he tested them – not all by himself, of course. He had help from thousands of gamers who visited the one-of-a-kind toy test video arcade this summer at the Pacific Science Center in Seattle. Here are this year's top-rated computer games.


The newest PCs with superfast chips give this year's computer games flashier graphics and more realistic action than ever before.

In the Toy Test arcade, gamers could play on the keyboard or use special controllers for added realism.

The testers examined 30 titles selected by the editors of Family PC magazine. There was a little bit of everything, role playing, racing, sports games and puzzles. The kids loved some of the titles and hated others.

So here are the winners - with a tie for first place.

Midtown Madness is a racing game, but there's no track. It's set on the streets of Chicago and the sidewalks, parks and plazas. It really is midtown madness!

Just choose your favorite car, then race against other players, outrun the police or put on your own demolition derby.

Star Wars: Episode I Racer is the other top-rated game. You loved the movie, now put yourself in the action.

Strap on your helmet, fire up your pod racer and shoot through more than 20 different tracks on eight unique worlds - all at more than 600 miles an hour.

No. 2 on the list is the Disney action game: Tarzan. You can be Tarzan as a 5-year-old boy or all grownup. Then swing through the 3-D jungle while avoiding dangers, ranging from an elephant stampede to hungry leopards.

Everybody loves Rayman and he's back with a new adventure in Rayman 2: The Great Escape, the third-place computer game.

A gang of intergalactic pirates has conquered Rayman's planet and locked everybody up. Rayman escapes and sets out to save the world. There's danger at every turn but fortunately, he's got some pretty amazing moves, including that helicopter hair thing.

You may have noticed that there's less mayhem in this year's winners. There's a reason for that. CBS wanted to be more family friendly and decided not to test graphically violent computer games where people got stabbed or shot. Even without the on-screen blood, the kids found lots of games they really liked.

FamilyPC magazine's editor-in-chief, Robin Raskin, found that encouraging. "It proves that kids can have a great time without shooting things and maiming things and seeing blood splattered all over," she says.

Two more winners: Our fourth-place game brings a classic low-tech toy to the PC. LEGO Racers lets drivers compete against challengers from classic LEGO play sets. And yes, he virtual racetracks are also straight out of the real world of LEGO.

And because it's LEGO, you don't just get in your car and drive. First you have to build it, choosing parts that let you customize handling and speed characteristics.

And at No. 5, the highest-rated sports game is Baseball Edition 2000. It features all 30 major league teams and their stadiums and more than 750 real players. Use them or create your own to win the World Series.

As with video games, parents who are concerned about violent content in computer games can look at the rating on the game box. You can find more about computer game ratings on the Entertainment Software Rating Board Web site at www.esrb.org and, if they still have concerns, parents can check out the computer game itself.